The F-22 Raptor, the Air Force's next-generation, air superiority fighter, today soared past a mark mandated by the U.S. Congress: 183 flight-hours. Today's flight fulfilled terms established by Congress to release funds needed for the advanced buy of the first six production F-22s, or Lot 1, and beat a Thanksgiving target date set by the Air Force chief of staff.24-11-1998 - Wright Patterson Airforce Base, OH -- Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems' Vice President and F-22 Team General Manager, praised the F-22 team's milestone. "This is a banner day for the F-22 program," said Burbage. "Congratulations to every person on the F-22 Air Force-Contractor team for meeting General Ryan's challenge and completing this requirement three days ahead of schedule. Now it's on to initial production and putting this aircraft into the hands of Air Force fighter pilots."
To date, the F-22 Combined Test Force, Edwards AFB, Calif., has logged 184.4 hours in the program's two current, flight-test F-22s. Completion of the 183 flight hours enables the Secretary of Defense to explain to Congress why those hours are sufficient to release funds for Lot 1 advanced procurement. The funds are for components, vendor start-up, and other costs preliminary to building aircraft.
"The next century's guarantor of air dominance for U.S. military forces is coming of age…and, ahead of schedule," said F-22 Program Office Director Brig. Gen. Michael Mushala. "To be able to accomplish so many program goals in record time really is a testament to the men and women who make the Raptor America's most advanced fighter."
Meeting the mandate occurred simultaneously with completion of separate criteria established by Department of Defense (DoD) and Air Force officials, allowing the F-22 team to fulfill terms of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Air Force and F-22 prime contractors Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney.
According to the MOA, contracts for the advanced buy of Lot 1 and for two production representative test vehicles (PRTV), totaling close to $800 million, will be awarded before Dec. 31. The PRTV aircraft will support F-22 operational test and evaluation beginning in 2002 at Edwards.
So far, the Raptor has met or exceeded all DoD program criteria ahead of schedule. In fact, the flight-test milestones were met, or exceeded, by Oct. 10, in less than 90 hours of flight.
The final two DoD requirements were the Nov. 12 completion of Critical Design Review (CDR) for Block 2 software and the upcoming delivery of the Block 1 avionics software to the F-22's Flying Test Bed, managed by Boeing, which is scheduled for this week, two weeks ahead of schedule.
"This is really just a springboard," said Lieutenant Colonel Moore, F-22 Combined Test Force Director. "We've laid out an aggressive plan for 1999 and we know we can achieve it."